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Roberts Wesleyan University Information

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What led to the change from Roberts Wesleyan College to Roberts Wesleyan University?

  • The institution has 156 years of evolution and innovative spirit from its inception as Chili Seminary in 1866. Since then, the name has changed as follows Chesbro Seminary (1885), Roberts Junior College (1945), Roberts Wesleyan College (1949), Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan College (added in 1998) and now Roberts Wesleyan University (2022). 
  • Roberts has been strategically advancing over the years through the addition of doctoral and graduate programs that are both innovative and meet the needs of our students. Leadership has been committed to strategic growth over its 156-year history and are currently working on completing the 2016-2023 Strategic Plan, which began to move toward University status given the investment and development of two doctoral programs, continued expansion of masters degrees and certificates through online or hybrid offerings.
  • Roberts has offered registered graduate programs since 1991 with the Masters of Education and has two doctoral degrees in Psychology (2016) and Occupational Therapy (2021).
  • Northeastern Seminary at Roberts has a doctoral degree in Ministry as well as graduate programs. 
  • Although Roberts is officially a University on paper effective 9/13/22, the program offerings over the years, by every measure, aligns with being granted university status. 
  • Roberts Wesleyan proudly sponsors 16 athletic programs at the NCAA DII division and is  the only DII institution in the Greater Rochester area. This move, which took place in 2011, positioned Roberts to be aligned with the goal of university status. 
  • Roberts Wesleyan has been an engaged member of local, state, national and international organizations. President Porterfield has served as a board member and leader within the RAC, CICU and CCCU organizations. 
  • NY’s Independent Colleges and Universities @CICU on Twitter, Jan. 11, 2022: 
    • “We applaud the New York State Board of Regents for updating the state’s definition of “university,” bringing New York State into alignment with the rest of the country. CICU has advocated for years on behalf of our members – the 100-plus private, not-for-profit institutions of higher education across the Empire State – to make this critical change a reality. Removing this barrier of designation will ensure that colleges within New York State market themselves to prospective students at home and abroad in a manner that reflects the depth and breadth of their academic offerings and will help retain and support the value of degrees from this institution.” – Lola W. Brabham, CICI President

How does New York State define University? What is different from the previous definition?

In January 2022, the Board of Regents of the NYSED approved an amendment to section 50.1(I) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education relating to the definition of “university,” paving the way for various institutions across the state to transition from a college to a university.  The revised definition is as follows:

“University means a higher educational institution offering a range of registered undergraduate and graduate curricula in the liberal arts and sciences, including graduate programs registered in at least three of the following discipline areas: agriculture, biological sciences, business, education, engineering, fine arts, health professions, humanities, physical sciences and social sciences.”

This definition removed an earlier requirement that institutions offer doctoral programs in order to be called a “university;” however it retains the requirement that programs be across a minimum of three discipline areas.

Roberts Wesleyan College meets the revised university definition because it offers a range of qualifying registered undergraduate and graduate curricula in the liberal arts and sciences, including graduate programs registered in the following discipline areas:  business, education, health professions, and social sciences.

Registered Graduate Programs


    • M.S. in Strategic Leadership


    • M.Ed. in Adolescence and Special Education
    • M.Ed. in Literacy Education
    • M.Ed. in Childhood & Special Education
    • M.Ed. in Special Education
    • M.Ed. in Early Childhood & Special Education
    • M.S. in School Counseling
    • M.S. in School Psychology

Health Professions

    • M.S. in Family Nurse Practitioner
    • M.S. in Health Administration
    • M.S. in Nursing Education
    • M.S. in Nursing Leadership and Administration
    • M.S. in Public Health
    • Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD)

Social Sciences

    • Clinical/School Psychology (Psy.D.)
    • Master in Social Work (M.S.W.)

What will change on campus?

  • We are excited for updates to the campus from new signage to installing the new logos in buildings and outside banners too!  We will be steadily working on these in phases over the 2022-2023 academic year. All internal and external communications will reflect Roberts Wesleyan University as of 9/13/22.
  • The Community Institutes name will change to the Community Institutes at Roberts Wesleyan University. The institutes will continue to provide certificate based learning, mental health services, workforce development, security and civility resources, and much more. See the latest offerings at www.roberts.edu/ci
  • And, we are excited that the Golisano Community Engagement Center will be branded Roberts Wesleyan University at its grand opening in 2023!

Will Roberts Wesleyan University add more graduate and doctoral programs in the future?

We will continue to research programs that are right for our students, address growing needs in specific industries and enable our graduates to compete in a competitive job market. Through graduate and doctoral programs, students will develop skills that employers value and see in new hires.  

What’s not going to change?

  • Our mission remains the same, a community of learners committed to historic Christianity, Roberts Wesleyan College seeks to prepare thoughtful, spiritually mature, service-oriented people who will help transform society.
  • Students choose Roberts because of the warm atmosphere, Christian community feeling. focus on students, high-quality academics and caring faculty.  None of this is changing. It’s the same great institution you have grown to love and appreciate!
  • Roberts faculty will continue to be accessible to students, including providing support beyond the classroom. Faculty and staff care deeply for students and know them by name, not by number. Roberts will still be personable and purposeful. The campus community will continue to provide transformative experiences, personal growth and discovery for all who desire a Christian education. 

Will the tuition be raised?

Roberts will not be raising tuition with the change to university.  

What are the benefits to Roberts for this change?

  • This will give students recognition for the institution that they attended.
  • The benefits start with our students who will gain professional experience and qualifications that are recognized and respected as a university education. A university degree is more globally recognized and will give our students the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of their chosen field with advanced studies, research, Christ-centered learning. This status will help Roberts to attract future students, not only from other states but also internationally.
  • Founded in 1866, Roberts will continue to focus on providing “Education for Character,” enhancing the student experience and providing a Christian education offering excellence in liberal arts and professional programs for all who desire it. 
  • With the investment in the change to university, Roberts hopes to create broader networks in the Greater Rochester area and beyond through The Community Institutes and Corporate Partnerships. And through those relationships, provide students with more experiential learning connections such as internships, clinicals, student teaching and research opportunities to name a few. 

What about diplomas for current students? What will it read?

The Registrar's office is in the process of updating the transcript paper. Once completed, all diplomas and transcripts that date will be from Roberts Wesleyan University.

I’m an alumni, do I change my LinkedIn, resume language to University?

Roberts Wesleyan College provided you with “Education for Character” and so will Roberts Wesleyan University to the next generations of students. We are proud of our 156 year legacy and we know you are too. We leave the choice to you! You can leave it as College or update it to University. Either way, you earned your degree from an innovative and distinctive institution and we are proud of the 20,200+ alumni living and serving around the world.

I’m an alumni, can I have a new diploma printed with the new name?

  • Roberts will offer the opportunity to have a new diploma issued through March 2023. The Roberts Wesleyan University diploma fee is TBD.
  • Details will be available in the spring of 2023. Orders will be processed through this form 
  • Orders will be processed in the order they are received.
  • Please note the following before placing an order:
    • Updated diplomas will be in the current style, with the current president and administrative signatures and the Roberts Wesleyan University seal. 
    • If there is a hold on the account, Roberts will not issue an updated diploma until the hold is resolved.
    • Degree dates will be verified before the diploma is issued.

I’m an alumni and it feels like changing the name to University loses the small caring community feel. How will Roberts ensure that won’t happen?

The name university does feel “bigger” and is an indication of the undergraduate and graduate programs the school offers. Know that with this name change, our care for our students will remain the same.  We are committed to that! Roberts remains student-focused, integrative and holistic.

Will Roberts use the acronym RWU?

Roberts uses acronyms more internally than externally.  However, watching this strategy unfold that provides unlimited opportunities has been unbelievable. So, yes, being a university will be an ultra cool change for Roberts! We hope you think so too!

What are the social media accounts and website URLs?

  • For students, faculty and staff, email addresses will be the same with the roberts.edu suffix. 
  • The website address will remain www.roberts.edu.
  • The following social media accounts remain the same:
    • Twitter: @RobertsWesleyan
    • Instagram: @RobertsWesleyan
  • The following social media accounts have changed:
    • Facebook: @RobertsWesleyanCollege to @RobertsWesleyanUniversity
    • YouTube: Roberts Wesleyan College to Roberts Wesleyan University

What about my Roberts apparel and swag, can I still wear it?

Keep wearing the Roberts apparel you love! The bookstore will be having a sale on current merchandise. New Roberts Wesleyan University “merch” will be available at the bookstore. We hope to see you at homecoming in both your vintage and new university swag!


Chili Seminary

Established by Benjamin T. Roberts & opened in 1869


Chesbro Seminary

The school was renamed A.M. Chesbrough Seminary


Roberts Junior College

The school was renamed Roberts Junior College


Roberts Wesleyan College

A charter is obtained to provide a four-year curriculum and another name change to Roberts Wesleyan College


Roberts Wesleyan University

Name change to Roberts Wesleyan University granted by the New York State Board of Regents